HC Deb 14 February 1949 vol 461 cc840-1

Amendment made: In page 4, line 39, after the first "assize," to insert: (other than the Central Criminal Court or a court held by virtue of a special commission)."—[The Attorney-General.] Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)

There is one question I should like to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman about this Clause. Under this Clause the clerk of assize has to apportion the payments in respect of jury service between payments in respect of criminal work and payments in respect of civil work. On what basis has that apportionment to be made in cases, for instance, where there are jurors waiting from the commencement of the criminal work at an assize, who do not, in fact, serve as jurors until the criminal work is over and who serve as jurors in a civil action? The time during which they are waiting to act as jurors, is time for which they will now be remunerated. Will that time count against the Exchequer in respect of service on a civil jury, or will the time they are waiting count against the rates, if the jurors are waiting in criminal cases? There ought to be some principle laid down, otherwise it appears that clerks of assizes will be placed in considerable difficulty in making the correct apportionment.

This Clause and the preceding Clause will place additional burdens on the clerks of assizes, who in these days are pretty busy people. Can the Attorney-General say that, where the Government are satisfied the pressure is great, they will see that additional assistance is made available?

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)

I wish to reinforce what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) has just said. On a circuit not altogether unknown to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the work is becoming very heavy indeed, and any further burden will be the final straw. I suggest that serious steps should be taken to strengthen and increase the staff that is available.

The Attorney-General

The answer to the last point raised might perhaps be found in solvitur ambulando. The circumstances in different circuits may be very different, but I give the assurance that the position will be watched. If it is necessary to reinforce the clerks of assizes of any or all of the areas, it will be done as may be required. I agree that the first point raised is a matter of importance. We shall certainly look at it. It is a matter that ought to be covered, and can be covered, by administrative instructions, so that there is a proper allocation as between criminal and civil work and the rates and the Exchequer.

Mrs. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)

During the Second Reading Debate I referred to the methods adopted for the selection of juries. Has any consideration been given to the comments I made?

The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Bowles)

The Clause relates to the payment of jurors and not to the method of selecting juries.

Mrs. Braddock

A question has just been asked about the work of clerks of assizes, and I wanted to ask whether anything is to be done to ease their responsibilities in regard to selecting juries, by the adoption of some other procedure that has been suggested.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I wish to thank the Attorney-General for the reply he has given and to ask him to make known, during the later stages of our discussion, the principle to be applied so that, if need be, we can comment or express our agreement upon it.

The Attorney-General indicated assent.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 6 to 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.